Devotional Thoughts for Today
James 3.17-18 (NASB)
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. 18 And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
Throughout my study of philosophy in undergrad, I had some amazing professors. They were amazing not just because of their grasp of the subject matter but because of the humble and inquisitive manner in which they taught. This had a deep impact on my own pursuit of wisdom. However, despite their positive impression on me, I distinctly remember a time when I refuse to follow their example.
For some odd reason, I needed to take a 100-level philosophy course in my final semester of college. Being the “big bad” senior who had already finished his senior project for my major, I strolled into this class, ready to “educate” the freshman that filled this 100-level course. I scoffed at their attempts of putting on their berets and “philosophizing.” Every comment they made that didn’t agree with my reading of the material, I quickly interjected my “superior deducing abilities,” refuting in a tactful-yet-passive-aggressive way why they were just plain wrong.
The reason I still remember that class today is because of the sheer arrogance and foolishness I see in my heart. Philosophy (philo – love, sophia – wisdom) is the love of wisdom. But I had weaponized it to put others down. It is quite the indictment when we read James’ description of the wisdom that comes from above—it is first and foremost pure, that is, morally blameless. This wisdom is peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. The “wisdom” I displayed in class was not this. And the thrust of James’ message is that the wisdom not from above is not only useless, but it is earthly, natural, demonic.
True wisdom is one that makes peace with people. It is one that builds up someone. It shows mercy. It bears good fruit. It comes from a place of humility because we recognize that this wisdom is truly not from ourselves but from above, the Giver of every good and perfect gift.
The question for us today is again concerning the condition of our hearts. When we reflect upon the wisdom by which we navigate through life, especially in our interactions with others, does it reflect a worldly wisdom that is harsh and rigid? Or does it reflect the wisdom from above, pure and full of mercy? Perhaps today’s passage is calling us to turn away from that which is worldly to claim that which is heavenly.
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, thank You that You give generously and without reproach Your wisdom to those who ask for it. We reject the earthly, demonic wisdom that causes strife and division amongst us. We reject the arrogance and hypocrisy of this wisdom in exchange for Your pure, peaceable, merciful wisdom. Help us to live out of this wisdom today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Ecclesiastes 9
Lunch Break Study
Read 1 Corinthians 8:1b: We know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. 1 Corinthians 13:1-2: If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
Questions to Consider
- Focusing on the language used by Paul in 8:1b, what can we understand of worldly wisdom/knowledge?
- Why do you think Paul writes in 13:1-2 that wisdom and knowledge alone results in “nothing”?
- What can we infer about the nature of the Giver of wisdom and His desire for us?
- The language used here juxtaposes “puff” and “build”. The former is big but insubstantial. Whereas it is frail and can be deflated, love solidifies and enhances. Love builds something that is lasting.
- Love is the vehicle upon which wisdom and knowledge can be shared in a manner that is, as the passage in James teaches us, pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy, etc. Without love, knowledge and understanding remains as is—static and without effect.
- It points us to a God who not only is the Giver of wisdom but is wisdom as well as love. It teaches us of a God whose wisdom leads us to His love. Thus, God gives us this wisdom so that we may learn to love and build up others. This wisdom and knowledge are not meant to remain static. It calls us to action.
As you think about today, were there moments when God revealed His wisdom that led you to a greater understanding of His love? As you think about the way God’s wisdom has built you up, pray and ask the Lord to give you an opportunity to use that wisdom to build up someone else.